It’s one thing to draw from life–or, to draw from some model which holds a physical place in reality, whether it be a photograph, the actual object, a creature, or a person in front of you. It’s a completely different thing to draw or paint something that is coming directly from your brain, and I find it very difficult to do well. I often fail at it, actually.
When I was young, I learned from a drawing book called “How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way.” It was one of the best drawing books I ever picked up, and, when I went to art school, half of my drawing class owned that book! I see that it is still in print, and it helped me to learn how to draw things from my mind.
In the following series of drawings, I will show you my process of bringing an image that resides only in my head onto the page, then begin to sketch out the details of the composition into a somewhat finalized drawing.
First, I make some quick “stick figure” representations–in order to get alignment and basic positioning of each subject. Now is not the time to add any real details–this is a “outline” of the book before it is written, so to speak.
Don’t EVER worry about things looking silly. If you look at my dragon, it looks like Puff the Magic Dragon rather than some fierce, fire-breathing relative of one of the beasts in an R.R. Martin book series that I know and love.
Just embrace the stick figure!
Next, I place a sheet of paper over the stick figures and sketch out a more “fleshed out” version of the scene. I’m still not adding shading really–just a chance to make it more recognizable to the idea in my brain–so I don’t end up forgetting what things looked like in that weird stew of firing neurons and memories.
Things are starting to look like the real things that I thought they would. But, they’re not perfect–not that I plan to get it perfect. I never think any of my work is perfect.
I now transport the image to my computer. I have a pen tablet and a copy of GIMP (free Photoshop-type open source software), and I begin to “lay in” the shading.
I make a new layer for every different area that I shade. For example, when I am shading the armor of the knight, I make a layer titled “Knight shading,” that way, I can separate the drawing into easily editable sections–for when big mistakes are happening.
Drawing on a pen tablet–once it’s all set up how you like it–is a lot of fun and quite inspiring. I use a cheap Wacom Bamboo tablet–you can pick one up new for less than a hundred bucks, or even find them used on Craigslist for $40 (that’s what I did!)
I plan to do more with this drawing, but it’s not done yet. Tune in for more, or check out some of the other posts I’ve made!
Want to learn how to draw Sonic the Hedgehog? Here is a step by step video I made to explain how I did it.